Percussionist, Instructor, Lead Facilitator, Ritualist, Afia Walking Tree, M.Ed is a world-class percussionist, cultural ambassador, spiritual activist, empowerment facilitator, leadership development advocate and trainer. Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, she is currently based in the California Bay Area. Walking Tree's drumsongs are prayers of gratitude for the generosity of spirit. Her lyrics are evolutionary teachings, addressing present day issues of social justice, freedom, healing and self-love. Her first solo CD, entitled Soul Affirmationz is now available at www.spiritdrumz.org.
For over 14 years, Walking Tree has served her destiny as visionary director of her brainchild, Spirit Drumz, an international organization that prioritizes women and youth of all cultures to utilize African Diasporic drumming, dancing, storytelling to activate empowerment and healing. While Afia's universal message has inspired multitudes, over the years, she has also been moved by others and fostered universal concepts of planetary healing and human wellness through in-depth conversations and journeys with beloved colleagues and allies such as Jules Stept, Lisa da Silva, Queen Hollins, Suhir BlackEagle, Felicity Artemis Flowers, Lea Arrelano, Laurie McWhorter, and Teresa Jasinski, to name a few.
A self-taught musician for the most part, Walking Tree began her drumming studies in her tiny Harlem apartment share in 1990 listening to the music of Edwina Lee Tyler and Babatunde Olatunji, on her very own Jamaican-style Repeater drum (used in Rastafarian cultures). She then sought out her first teachers and since 1990 has been immersed extensive study of African Diasporic drum, dance, culture, and shamanism in West Africa (Guinea/Ghana), Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Philippines, Bali, Thailand, London, and the US. Her repertoire includes the integration of traditional Afro-Cuban (Congas, Shekeres, Bells, Bongos, Batas, Culture), Afro-Caribbean (Nyabingi, Steel Pan, Calypso), West African (Djembe, Dununs, Krin, Gongoma, Kpanlogo, Ngoma, Dance, Song, Storytelling, Culture), Afro-Haitian (Manman, Segon, Boula), Afro-Brazilian (Surdo, Repinique, Agogo, Ganza, Tamborim), Middle Eastern, (Dumbek, Riqq, Bodran), Indonesian Gamelan, Japanese Taiko, Voice, Body Percussion, and dance.
Her first and most beloved teachers and inspirators were Debra McGee, Phyllis Bethel, Edwina Lee Tyler, Ubaka Hill, and Babatunde Olatunji, which she feels formed what she considers her drum lineage. Later on, Afia reinforced her musical dexterity with Masters from the West African drum ands dance pantheon Abdulai Diakete, Fred Simpson, Mabiba Baegne, Mamady Keita, Lamine Bangoura, Lamine Dibo Camara, Yamoussa Soumah, to name a few.
Walking Tree's holistic humanist approach to her life and work is evident in her affirmation-based sound powah transpersonal workshops and energizing performances, which empower individuals and community through percussion, ritual, dance, song, and dialogue. She is called luminary trailblazer because of her innovative, joyful, constructive, and inspiring approach to envisioning, awakening, and freeing our collective voices. Many seasoned community leaders express that Walking Tree is one of the most dynamic facilitators and activists for humanity they have seen in action. As a masterful facilitator Walking Tree builds bridges across communities, inspiring sustainable change at multiple levels, by awakening everyone she touches, and by liberating masses in the briefest of moments.
In 2005, Walking Tree journeyed to West Africa, Guinea and Ghana, where she furthered her mastery with griots and shamans in drum, dance, culture, and wellness. And from December 2008 to January 2009, she returned to one of the small fishing villages in Guinea, called Roume, with 33 westerners from all over the world, and immersed this international group in Guinea drum, dance and culture.
Her consistent dedication to community activism, transpersonal leadership, emotional re-emergence, and ritual, as well as her love of the drum, spirit, and ancestry, prepared Afia to meet her Ancestral family through Jules Stept in 2002. It was Jules who introduced Afia to her spiritual oracle Ma Ajuba, also endeared as Orisa Oke, Nana Buruku, Nana Bukuun of the West African Ifa pantheon. Jules had channeled the ancient Goddess of Blessings and Miracles 10 years earlier in a compelling 2.5 x 3.5 ft pastel figure, sitting on an almost invisble drum stool. Jules was charged by Ma Ajuba, that Afia was her spirit daughter who would revive and activate her long lost lineage. After being in relationship with this newly found ancestor along with a circle of Priestesses for 2 years of deep ritual practice, on December 19, 2004, Afia Walking Tree was coronated and crowned, Amazon Queen of the Ajuba Lineage (Ajuba means Miracle in Hindu).
Walking Tree has a long-standing performance history that began in the church choir with her mother as an adolescent and later in college when she recited her first poems in public. She has shared the stage with many activists and artists such as: Alice Walker, Jennifer Berezan, Patti Cathart (of Tuck & Patti), Olympia Dukakis, Gloria Steinem, Wilma Mankille, Vicki Noble, Vicki Randle, Kelly Takunda Orphan, Marisa Tomei, Linda Tillery, Rhiannon, Joanna Macy, Dance Brigade, Rita Sahai, Luisah Teish, Drew Dellinger, Terry Sendgraff¹s Aerial Dancers, Christian de la Huerta, Joey Blake, David Worm, Jami Sieber, Vicki Noble, Kim Rosen, Chris Webster, Erika Luckett, Edwina Lee Tyler, Debbie McGee, Phyllis Bethel, Ubaka Hill, Arthur Hull, Veronica Combs, Carolyn Brandy, Mabiba Baegne, Virginia Lopez, Nurudafina Pili Abena, Abdulai Diakete, Fred Simpson, Caru Thompson, Linda Thomas-Jones, Fatu Henderson, Marquinho Brasil, Alex Acuna, Brindle Sweigart, Debbie Nargi Brown, Chris Kenney, Michael Glusman, Gary Kehoe, Linda Thomas-Jones, Judy Grahn, CC Carter, and countless others.
She has collaborated with ensembles, troupes, and organizations such as: Percussion de Guinea Ballet, Les Amazones Women Master Drummers of Guinea, Women Drummers International, GayGames VII, Creating Change National LGBT Conference Pride Ritual, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Percussive Arts Society, Michigan Women's Music Festival, Dance Brigade, Sambada Brazilian Band, Adaawe Percussion Troupe, Purple Moon Dance Project, Ase Drumming Circle, DrumNdance, Liquid Fire Productions, Drum for Joy, Mother Spirit Ensemble, Circle of Voices, and many others.
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